The US has refused to share any information with India on the use of F-16 fighter jets by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in its bid to strike Indian military installations and subsequent dogfight with Indian Air Force (IAF) jets on February 27, according to a report.
“Soon after we were informed by the Indian side about Pakistan using F-16 aircraft on February 27, we informed the Indians that we will not be sharing any information on the subject as it is a bilateral matter between the US and Pakistan,” a US official was quoted by The Indian Express on condition of anonymity.
“If a third country tomorrow wants information about the C130 or C17 or Apaches that the IAF uses, our answer would be the same. It is a bilateral matter between India and the US,” the official said, adding, India understands the underlying logic to this position.
The US official said while India shared "evidence" suggesting the use of F-16 fighter jets by the PAF, it has neither presented any proof nor asked for any inputs about the shooting down of an F-16 by the IAF.
In order to prove that Pakistan had used F-16s on February 27, India had shared evidence such as call signs of PAF F-16s and specific details of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air To Air Missile (AMRAAM) used by the intruding PAF jets.
However, New Delhi declined to share any AWACS pictures or radar images due to operational concerns of the IAF.
The US statement came after reports said the US sold F-16 fighters to Pakistan on the condition that they would be used only in a defensive role, and the PAF had used them for an air strike targeting Indian military installations.
Following the Balakot operation, IAF and PAF jets indulged in a dogfight over the LoC on February 27.
India said one of its MiG-21 fighter jets downed a Pakistani F-16 before itself being shot down.
The pilot of that jet Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan and handed over to India on March 1 in an effort to de-escalate the crisis.
Pakistan, however, has denied the Indian Air Force's claim, saying none of its aircraft were shot down during the dogfight.